Chief operating officer Atul Khosla said the Fire have a lot to work on despite being at a “very good place as an organization” after an eventful offseason. That means finalizing more sponsorships and completing the office building at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, something Khosla said they’d like to have finished in the fall.
Perhaps another thing is healing some of the wounds from the infamous editorial posted on the team’s website in Aug. 2013, something that could stain the fans’ view of the franchise even as it progresses.
Khosla realizes that and addressed it on Jan. 17 at the Independent Supporters Association annual general meeting. He did so again Thursday to the Sun-Times, saying the intention wasn’t to hurt the supporters but “it didn’t go right at all and at the end of the day that, from a front-office perspective, that is my responsibility and I couldn’t be more incredibly sorry about that.”
“If I look at the tenure and the things that we’ve been able to do at the club, that was one where I felt like we just didn’t do it right and we’ve got to mend it going forward,” Khosla said. “As part of everything else that we’re trying to grow and fix, that was important that we started this year off on the right foot, and said what I think everyone here believes and wants, and me first, is I’m sorry that that’s what happened.”
Khosla’s apology is just a part of what’s been a very busy few months. That was supposed to continue Saturday with the scheduled ceremonial launch of the training facility, a year-round soccer center located at Talman Ave. just off Addison St.
But the club said that due to the impending winter storm, the event was postponed and will be scheduled for a later date. It’s a break the Fire business side didn’t want, though maybe one it needs just to rest.
“It has been, by far, the busiest offseason that we have had in a very long time. In a great way,” Khosla said. “The fact that we have got a lot of these things locked in for years, great. Allows us to now focus and grow other aspects of the business so we aren’t chasing things every year.”
Those things include a three-year broadcast deal with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, continuing the jersey sponsorship with Quaker Oats and completing a naming-rights agreement for the soccer center. The planning for some of that has gone back over 18 months of what Khosla termed “methodical” efforts to build the franchise.
It’s been an offseason the Fire needed. Perception of the club had soured and questions were being asked about its direction – both on and off the field. What’s happened since October will help turn some of that, but Khosla’s concerns weren’t that perception.
“Our focus was, our work will speak for itself and we have got to get these things right,” Khosla said. “I’m excited that we have been able to sort of start this season with a lot of the planning that’s been going on for the (past) 12 to 18 months.”
And part of that is knowing things like the residue of the editorial can hamper a franchise.
“I’m completely and fully aware of it and that’s why I think going into this year it was important for me and the entire organization to start off right and start us on the right foot,” Khosla said.